Health Promotion and Disease Prevention
Latin America has combated vaccine-preventable diseases, mainly smallpox and poliomyelitis. North and South America were the first regions to succeed along with the support of the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) and UNICEF campaigns (Guzman-Holst et al., 2020). The continent seeks 95% vaccination coverage for all diseases contained in national immunization programs, with particular emphasis on hard-to-reach rural areas and urban slums (Guzman-Holst et al., 2020). Another program called Expanded Program on Immunization (EPI) also played a considerable role in the impeccable work of immunization programs in the region (Guzman-Holst et al., 2020). The fight against poliomyelitis, measles, rubella, diphtheria, tetanus, and whooping cough has been mostly successful.
Spiritual Beliefs’ Impact
Religion is a unifying factor in Latin America’s cultural development. The vast majority of the continent’s population (90%) professes Catholicism (De la Torre & Martín, 2016). The spiritual life of Latin American countries developed under the significant influence of Catholicism, which adapted local beliefs, cults, rituals, and rituals to religious issues. Religious syncretism became one of the essential factors in the cultural life of the region throughout Latin America (De la Torre & Martín, 2016). Various religious beliefs can affect significantly on how new medical methods and technologies are perceived among the population. Positive innovations are often met with hostility by the religious community. The big debate between medicine and religion these days occurs in terms of organ transplantation (De la Torre & Martín, 2016). Although this advanced medical procedure embodies all the achievements of new medical science, it is categorically not welcomed in any religion.
At present, there is another peaceful interaction between religion and medicine – traditional medicine. Religion has always shaped its norms and rules, and cultural traditions. Such medicine cures and, to some extent, prevents diseases, providing sanitary and hygienic care. In this regard, its instructions for healthy people are carried out at all stages of a person’s life cycle – from birth to death.
It is essential to know the religious and cultural environment in which the patient’s consciousness is formed. The preservation of health and life cannot be separated from compliance with the principles of individual freedom, and therefore the principle of respect for the individual’s beliefs. Without awareness of cultural background, a competent provision of medical care is impossible. Religious and ethnic characteristics can provoke specific restrictions when a doctor provides medical treatment. Such a situation can quite realistically arise when rendering medical services in the framework of humanitarian assistance during the armed conflicts, the occurrence of natural and human-made disasters, and other emergencies.
Among the factors uniting peoples of Latin America, there is the language as the basis. The fact that, along with the most common Spanish language, Latin America speaks Portuguese (Brazil) and French (Haiti, Guadeloupe, Martinique, French Guiana), does not violate its pan-Roman unity. Since the language is one of the most crucial tools for the transmission and culture dissemination, all its manifestations, being passed through a homogeneous linguistic transformer, acquire related features.
With regard to patient education, there is ignorance concerning several severe diseases. As in the case of AIDS, many social prejudices were associated with tuberculosis in the 20th century. In the past and today, tuberculosis is considered to be a disease of the poor population (Malta et al., 2019). Therefore, getting sick with tuberculosis means showing others that your income and your position in society are low, and in Brazil, such people are often discriminated against (Malta et al., 2019). The critical difference between the perception of AIDS and tuberculosis diseases was that the AIDS problem received support from the movements that appeared earlier in the restoration of democracy (Malta et al., 2019). The situation was different with tuberculosis. The poor did not have their campaign, which they could use to put pressure on the government. Moreover, the movement of support of those infected with tuberculosis and AIDS was not beneficial.
Since colonial times, infectious diseases outbreaks have been frequent in Ibero-America. The history of public health in Latin America and the Caribbean is a chain of continuous efforts to provide proper sanitation and hygiene and combat disease communication. Infections spread in Latin America can be divided into two main groups: tropical diseases such as malaria, cholera, dengue, yellow fever, and other illnesses that occur worldwide, for example, tuberculosis and HIV (Guzman-Holst et al., 2020). Infectious diseases differ in their epidemiological picture due to the presence of animal vectors, the growth and geographical distribution of the population, climate change, the presence of inequality, and social conflicts (Guzman-Holst et al., 2020). This is due to environmental factors that are difficult to control, mainly social, political, and economic constraints. They prevent the use of effective high-tech methods of treating the disease and vector control. Infectious diseases not related to tropical diseases in the region and throughout the world are more predictable. Achieving a sustained reduction in incidence is manageable with public health measures, behavioral changes, treatment, and immunization.
These days traditional and alternative medicine is increasingly being included in the programs of medical institutions and centers for rehabilitation, especially in Asia and Latin America. For many millions of people, often living in rural areas of developing countries, herbal medicines, traditional treatments, and traditional healers are the primary source of medical care. At the same time, there are standard features inherent in all countries of the region, for example, the predominance of the Western classical medical school in the medical care system while preserving the foundations of traditional medicine (Gamlin et al., 2020). Meanwhile, there is a downward trend in its usage (Gamlin et al., 2020). The governments of Latin America countries have instead tightly controlled pricing and state reimbursement policies for drugs in their national pharmaceutical markets, despite the absence of a unified system of reference prices among these countries.
De la Torre, R., & Martín, E. (2016). Religious studies in Latin America. Annual Review of Sociology, 42, 473-492.
Gamlin, J., Gibbon, S., Sesia, P., & Berrio, L. (2020). Critical medical anthropology-perspectives in and from Latin America. UCL Press.
Guzman-Holst, A., DeAntonio, R., Prado-Cohrs, D., & Juliao, P. (2020). Barriers to vaccination in Latin America: A systematic literature review. Vaccine, 38(3), 470-481.
Malta, M., Silva, A. B., LeGrand, S., Whetten, K., & Wells, S. (2019). HIV/AIDS, human rights, and transgender people in Latin America. The Lancet Public Health, 4(6), 279.